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The Pirates 2024 collapse is now official

If you thought the Pirates would get well going up against a lame-duck (and rather lame) A’s team in Oakland, California, this week, think again.

Pittsburgh was swept by the Athletics in a three-game series at the Oakland Coliseum.

The Buccos have now lost 16 of their last 21 games. Included in that stretch is a 13 of 16 free-fall where Pittsburgh’s batters have scored a grand total of 31 runs. In case you’re bad at math, that’s an average of 1.93 runs per game.

3, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 4, 2, 2, 5, 0, 4, 2, 1, 2, and 0.

Above is the breakdown of the Pirates’ runs for each game over the past 16, an offensive trend that began after they blew out the Phillies by a score of 9-2 on April 14.  Doesn’t Pittsburgh’s offense look even more pathetic in that context? I’m just surprised the Pirates haven’t been shut out more over the past two-plus weeks, but I guess scoring only one run five different times is a good enough indicator of how ridiculous this collapse has been. And make no mistake, this is a collapse. If you’re counting at home, it’s now the second-straight collapse after a hot start in April. The only difference this time is that Pittsburgh began its slide earlier than a season ago when a 20-8 start turned into a three-month tailspin where the team won a combined 27 games through July.

The next question is this: When will the slide stop? Can these young and mostly unproven Pirates turn the tide and right the ship (pun intended) before they find themselves hopelessly out of everything? The sweep by the A’s dropped Pittsburgh into last place in the National League Central Division with a 14-18 record. The good news is that the Buccos are only six games out of first and 2.5 behind in the wildcard race. The bad news is that it won’t matter if the bats don’t wake up.

Everyone is counting down the days until pitcher Paul Skenes makes his Major League debut. The only problem with that is he’s a pitcher and not a slugger.

Starting pitching hasn’t really been the Pirates’ issue over the past 21 games. The bats have been the issue. The hitting is some of the worst anyone has seen around here in years, and that is saying something. Pittsburgh is hitting .227 as a team, good enough for 23rd place. The Pirates are 26th in home runs with 24. Pittsburgh is 21st in RBI with 111. The Bucco batters have struck out 300 times, which is the fifth-highest total out of all Major League teams.

As for the pitching, the Pirates team ERA is 3.80. Pittsburgh’s pitchers are 10th in Major League Baseball with 275 strikeouts. Their WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) is a respectable 1.23. Hitters are batting a combined .228 against Bucco pitching.

The bullpen may be a little suspect–both Aroldis Chapman and David Bednar have struggled at the backend of it–but the pitching has been fine, collectively.

Again, the problem is the hitting, and guess what? There isn’t a Paul Skenes-like savior waiting in the minor leagues to make his professional debut. Save for Nick Gonzales and Ji Hwan Bae, the young batters who are expected to lead the Buccos into their next Buctober phase are already on the Major League roster.

The results, up to this point, are way less than promising.

Someone like Bryan Reynolds should be carrying the Pirates, and he is. The only problem is, he leads the team in home runs with four and RBI with 17. Connor Joe is a nice veteran ballplayer, but he shouldn’t be tied for second on the team in home runs with three. He shouldn’t be second in RBI with 14. How about Oneil Cruz? For all the tools and hype, he currently looks like Gregory Polanco, but without his stats.

I can go on and on, naming hitters, but it would be redundant.

The Pirates batters look hopeless and pathetic.

Does any Pirates hitter have a bucket big enough to bail the team out and right the ship before it sinks into the abyss of another lost baseball season in Pittsburgh?


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